The Beach.

A bar is the beach for people who can’t swim. This is what my friend Roger told me one night as we scanned the The Kettle of Fish one bustling, rainy Thursday evening. Propped up at the corner, our favorite spot, the collective white noise of everything and everyone heaved and ebbed like waves. I couldn’t have agreed more.

I never thought i’d be that lone guy who sits at a bar, talks to strangers, has one or two drinks and leaves. But I am. I can’t think of a better place than New York City to do this. I have my favorite spots, some have closed down, others haven’t change at all in the fifteen years i’ve been here.

Earlier this week I drove into the city to pick up some equipment I left behind at a venue I had performed in the previous Friday. It was close to one of my favorite dives, The Double Down Saloon so of course I ventured in for one. The rear patio during the summer is a filthy oasis lined with fire escapes. Now the weather has turned I like to sit by the window and watch the chaos where avenue A meets Houston. I regret not visiting the east village or lower east side when I visited NYC in the 90’s. It seems a shadow of itself now. I still love it though. I pull out my notebook but instead of working on lyrics I daydream out the window or make small talk with the bartender. I’m foolish to think this will ever play out any other way. Why be productive when I could be calm?

When I drive I allow myself two beers, this is an unbreakable rule. If I feel like having more, i’ll drive home or dump the car. So for my second I walk across the street to The Library, a bar I hadn’t been in since I first performed Supersmall songs at UCB East Theater two blocks away. After that show we all crammed in the back and got ridiculous with some of the audience that trailed in with us. The bar itself hasn’t changed in six years, but tonight it is lined with young kids reading thick books, buldging shopping bags at their feet and eating take out. I get my beer and a small dinosaur which indicates my next drink is free as it’s still happy hour. I know I won’t use it (two beer limit, i’m driving) so I give to the girl sitting to my right. It’s starts a conversation I soon regret. She’s drunk, and nuts, and privileged enough to talk over me, the bar girl and anyone else wither own options that are barely coherent. Marisa texts to see if I am still in the city. I agree to drive to Varick Street and pick her up. When I arrive the cops pull up behind me and turn on their lights. No siren so I know they just want me to move on. In the confusion that is that part of the city I find myself in a lane of traffic that takes me to the holland tunnel. Next stop, New Jersey. Fuck! I text Marisa, she’ll have to Uber home. No idea how long it will take me to get back to NYC, let alone to Varick Street. It’s hard to even be a pedestrian down there.

A toilet break is desperately needed but as I emerge from the tunnel I am blocked in by traffic that seems like its down for the night. I break left and drive south into what quickly becomes the suburbs. I look for a park, a laneway or anywhere to take a quick, discrete relief stop. Nothing but brownstones and speed bumps. I see a neon light in the distance. A bar.

I find a spot directly outside. I’ll grab just one, three beers in three hours? I’ll be fine. It’s a little on the fancy side. All waistcoats and stiff white shirts. I sit at the corner by the window with a clearly inebriated business man to my left. He looks miserable as he pours vodkas into himself. His shiny red face only looks up from his phone to indicate  for another. I’ve felt like that before. I’m not judging. Families start to come in and fill the tables at the back. Kids are well behaved but their parents look exhausted and get testy over which table to sit at.  Its a war of attrition as more couples arrive also looking for prime spots wielding weaponized politeness . I’m safe and isolated at the corner of the bar and the beer, without fail provides its usual welcome relief from anxiety. Burning coals, stabbing pins, constant flight or flight responses and a persistant struggle to breathe all drown in the crashing white noise that washes over me. The shallow social victories being fought out around me drift away. I’ll leave for home soon. Until then, all I hear is the ocean.

 

Supersmall @ Rock Valley Schoolhouse.

Back in August I had the pleasure to play four songs at one of my favorite places to perform, The Rock Valley Schoolhouse in Long Eddy, New York. I debuted two new songs, Astronaut & Moksha Patam. It was part of a larger show and I managed to get some of the footage. See below.

  1. This Other World
  2. Astronaut
  3. Moksha Patam
  4. Silent Moon

Ruby Rae @ The Oculus, NY.

Another fun show before an outdoor movie at The Oculus, NY. It was a kid’s movie so obviously, lots of kids :-/ This was minutes before they stormed the stage. Yours truly on bass.

 

Rome, Italy Tour, February 2018

The Amygdaloids/So We Are & Supersmall (Solo) performed in Rome recently. It was fun and my first time visiting the city. Marisa of course, being Italian American loved it. It was also her first time joining me on tour. We walked everywhere, clocking 12 miles a day according to my iPhone. We ate the best food I’ve ever had, drank wine in take out cups in the light rain at fountains, got lost and found cool side streets and bars but mostly just remained in awe of the sights and sounds of a bustling ancient place. There is much to say about the city, culture, people and the fun we had but I’m going to be lazy and just post the photos below.

Stay tuned for upcoming Supersmall shows in the city, and tours to Washington DC, Mexico and the West Coast, and some other cool stuff that is in the works. Oh, and the new album has been written. Finally. Well, still some tweaking but it should be ready for demos soon.

Scandinavia Tour Nov. 2017

It’s been a week or weeks or more (depending when I finish writing this) since I returned from a tour of Scandinavia with So We Are & Supersmall (solo). I’d always wanted to visit this region and it was amazing to do so as a musician (which means I can drink while I work). If you didn’t know already, So We Are (Dr.Joseph LeDoux and myself) are an acoustic duo that plays stripped down versions of songs by The Amygdaloids. It’s music of a genre called HeavyMental, as the only band in this category it really raises the chances of us getting a Grammy at some point. If you read that last sentence and didn’t see the humor, you should probably not read any further.

One of the great perks of this trip was that I got to fly around in first class. That experience alone is worth a long, obnoxious, detail-soaked blog entry about how the food is amazing, drinks are free and you get your own footwear/gifts and almost feel like a human being while flying and blah blah blah…honestly, it ruined me. I can never fly coach again, I mean I have to, but it will now be an experience worse than death. On the flight to Iceland I met Ryan, a nice guy who started a little known blog back in the day called Pitchfork . David Fricke sat behind me. A very strange flight indeed. Yes I blabbed about the bands I play in.

I arrived in Uppsala, Sweden on Wednesday afternoon. The flight had been delayed so I missed some early day formal introductions but was able to grab dinner at Domtrappkällaren that night. Afterwards as Joe and the rest retired to the hotel I walked around the town in the light rain and found Williams Pub, we would be playing a show there two nights later so I grabbed a few beers by myself to feel it out. They had a great Dutch IPA, the name I forget but I found myself going back to their Brooklyn IPA. Weird, Norway had this on tap also.

Thursday Morning I made my way to The Gronwall Hall (Grönwallsalen) where the plenary talk and musical performance was to take place. It was close to the hotel so I got to sleep in a little. I was having trouble with the jet lag, i’m not a good sleeper on a good day/night. Thankfully my doctor gave me some sleeping pills before I left which came in handy. I’ve excepted that insomnia is going to follow me around for the rest of my life and that medication will have to also. Damn they feel good. Two beers and a pill, heaven. The show went really well, although when I later seen the photographs & video they took I went back on the diet again and made more time for exercise. Oof! Later that night I hit Williams Pub (that diet lasted long) and made a spectacle of myself by bursting into tears laughing while reading Everyday Was overcast by Paul Kwiatkowski. I left early for the hotel but if you get a chance, you should read it.

Friday I arrived early at Williams Pub and met Thomas who would be our sound guy. After setting up the PA and doing a quick soundcheck we got talking music. Thomas was an electronic musician and producer, he was also a big fan of all the electronic bands I listened to 99% of the time. Cut a long story short, I sent him all of Supersmall’s library from both our producers for him to draw on for remixes. I’m excited to hear what he comes up with, I’ve really enjoyed his work he has sent me in the meantime.  This is typical of the touring experience, meeting like-minded folk ands getting out of your well-trodden bubble in the city that you live in.

The show went really well and Joe and I retired to the hotel afterwards for an early night. That was the plan I suppose, I ended up hitting the hotel bar which is a strange experience as the bartender is also the receptionist. It’s also so insanely expensive to drink in Sweden (and Norway) that people show genuine concern when you insist upon even the smallest amounts.

Saturday we flew to Oslo (nice airport) and then on to Stavanger, Norway where we had shows at the Scandic Forum and a downtown Café. The Scandic Hotel where we stayed had an incredible view of Mosvatnet Lake which I walked around in my pathetic attempt at exercise. I try, I really do. It rained pretty much on and off the whole time I was there which got no complaints from me as I’m a weirdo that likes, no wait, loves rain. There were some clear skies though. The town itself was great and I found a great coffee/beer/book shop called Books & Beer which I stopped into on more than one occasion.

I quit writing this blog post here weeks ago and failed to finish it several times since because there was a lot of cool and fun stuff that happened but required me to go through my calendar and I just didn’t/don’t have the time to write anymore here. I’m also lay. Just ask me about it if you see me. All I can say is that I loved Norway. The shows went great and since I got back to NYC I’ve been very busy and am closing in on finishing writing the third Supersmall record.  

So here is a summary:

Sunday to Tuesday: Tourist Stuff. Lots of writing in my hotel room and wandering around town and chatting to strangers. Also, took photos. Fish for breakfast everyday – winning!

Wednesday: A very early show in front of a 1000+ crowd & then a very late intimate show at Sting Cafe which was one of the most fun shows I’ve ever had as So We Are. Joe sounded great.

Thursday: I flew home first class which was wasted on me as I had come down with the flue. I was miserable. I relined my seat until it was a bed, turned on the massage function, but all I wished was to feel better again and be home in a real bed. When I arrived late at JFK my guitar arrived in two pieces and I’m still trying to get compensated by the airline. I refuse to let this dampen an otherwise wonderful musical adventure.

Friday: Reality.